The search for better sleep proves a popular one these days, between busy work and social lives. And why not? Nothing beats the feeling of a restful night, awakening energized and ready to conquer a new day.
But, it isn’t always easy to bounce out of bed refreshed when you would rather be hitting the snooze button. Try these tips to tackle better sleep and make waking up a little easier.
One of the most recommend ways to wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed is keeping regular hours. To keep your internal clock properly set, the National Sleep Foundation and Mayo Clinic recommend setting a sleep schedule that involves going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday.
Experts recommend avoiding big meals late at night, and giving yourself at least two hours between eating and going to bed. To fight post-meal drowsiness, get off the couch and engage in a mildly stimulating activity, such as washing the dishes or calling a friend so you don’t drift off until bedtime.
Blue light disturbs your internal clock because it delays the production of melatonin – the sleep hormone. Melatonin is partly controlled by light exposure and helps direct your sleep-wake cycles. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark, making you tired, and less when it is light – making you more alert.
Experts recommend turning off blue light devices – cell phones, laptops, televisions, iPads – at least one hour before bedtime. If you need to check something, keep the brightness on your device down and use a smaller screen.
Late night television may be hindering your ability to fall asleep at night as shows are built to be stimulating rather than relaxing. As an alternative, try listening to soothing music or a down tempo audio book to lure you into sleep. We are never too old to be read a bedtime story!
While we are on the topic of melatonin, make sure that your bedroom remains dark while you sleep. Opt for heavy curtains or shades, or use a sleep mask. Keep lights down if you have to get up in the night – use a small flashlight, or baseboard level nightlights in your bathroom or hallway.
Having a clean, decluttered bedroom can help you get better sleep.
Most people sleep best at slightly cooler temperatures, somewhere between 60 and 72 degrees F. The slight lowering of body temperature signals the production of melatonin, setting the stage for drowsiness.
Make sure your bed feels comfortable and suited to your sleeping style. Side sleepers tend to get better sleep on softer mattresses, stomach sleepers on firmer, and back sleepers on medium-firm.
In the short term, try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualizing a relaxing place. Take a warm bath, read a book or magazine by a soft light, or listen to soft music. Worry and anger can be detrimental to sleep when they last a long time, so look into long-term stress management solutions.
If you wake in the night, avoid stressing about not sleeping and instead focus on the goal of relaxation. Do non-stimulating activities such as deep breathing or reading. Postpone worrying and brainstorming by writing things down on notebook kept beside your bed then letting it go until morning.
If you can’t fall back to sleep after a little while, it might be helpful to get out of bed. First off, don’t stress about getting better sleep. Read a book in another room or listen to a relaxing song on the sofa until you feel sleepy again.
Getting exercise regularly is not only good for your overall health; it is also good for your sleep health. Just be sure to finish any moderate to vigorous workout at least 3 hours before going to sleep, or your endorphins will keep you awake.
Low impact exercises, such as relaxation yoga or general stretching, can help promote better sleep so feel free to do these closer to the time you go to bed.
Putting your briefcase by the door the night before can help establish a bedtime ritual. Having a steady bedtime ritual can help signal your body to start its descent into relaxation.
If you notice that despite getting enough sleep, you still wake drowsy, then consider digging deeper. Make sure your mattress is in good shape and not creating pressure points or support issues that keep you from deep sleep. It may also be helpful to consult with a doctor when issues become long-term or aren’t helped by improving sleep hygiene.
With these tips you will be on track to getting better sleep, and having more energetic mornings in no time.